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Brandy, Brandy, Brandy, I Can Let You Go 

Afrodisiac

Wednesday, Jun 30 2004
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It's tough being Brandy in a post-Beyoncé world of R&B. Ms. Bootylicious is the body and the voice; she's pop, she's hip hop, she's dance. Those few areas that Beyoncé hasn't got covered (soulful grit and the tease's whisper) are fiercely guarded by stalwarts Mary J. Blige and Janet Jackson, respectively. Where does that leave Brandy -- a fairly wholesome, relatively limited vocalist with some '90s diva cred -- when attempting a comeback of sorts? Step 1: Hire Timbaland, of course. Afrodisiac is replete with the omnipresent producer's trademark stammering beats and baby-cry samples. Some of it works: The title track is an agreeable blend of what Brandy does best -- boyfriend ballads -- and Timba's infectious, if predictable, strut. Some of it doesn't: "Talk About Our Love," which features Kanye West (Step 2: Get friendly with the latest hip hop-eratti), is a muddy soup of schmaltzy melody lines, West's background mutterings, and "hyperpersonal" lyrics that come off as self-important (really, did that many people talk shit about Brandy's relationships?). Step 3: Accept your status as R&B's Mandy Moore -- a nice girl with a decent voice who just doesn't have Britney's or Beyoncé's star power.

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Rachel Devitt

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